What is a Section 21 Notice?

Operating under the 1988 Housing Act, a Section 21 notice can be used to regain possession of a property after an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) has expired.

Unlike a Section 8 notice - which seeks to terminate a tenancy before its expiry date - landlords are not required to explain their reasons for issuing a Section 21 notice, so long as the agreement has in fact come to an end.

Landlords are within their right to regain possession of their property at the end of a tenancy, but they must go through the correct legal procedure to
retain their asset. This includes issuing a Section 21 notice.

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When can a Section 21 be issued?

A Section 21 notice, sometimes referred to as a 'notice to quit', can be issued two months in advance of an AST expiring. This aims to provide the tenant with enough time to view alternative living arrangements, while the landlord can begin their own search for a new occupant. A notice to quit can be served as soon as the agreement comes into play, but a date for eviction must be specified.

The two-month time period begins when the tenant has received the notice to quit; not when the notice was written or posted. The tenant is under no obligation to vacate the property unless they have been given a minimum of two months to move out.

How is it different from a Section 8?

As aforementioned, landlords can cite any one of 17 grounds in their Section 8 notice to evict a tenant during an AST. A Section 21 however is served on the tenant by a landlord wishing to claim back their home once the agreement has expired.

To regain possession of a property before a fixed term has ended, a Section 8 notice must first be served before a Section 21 can be passed. Furthermore, should the tenant fall foul of a stipulation in their AST before it expires - by defaulting a payment or causing a disturbance, for example - a Section 8 and a Section 21 will be needed.

What does a Section 21 notice look like?

The Housing Act was amended in 1996 to allow written versions of Section 21 notices to be submitted. Landlords must now issue all Section 21 notices in writing.

When informing the occupant in question, the sender is strongly advised to sent any forms by recorded delivery and keep proof of postage. This means they can always show that their notice was sent and delivered, regardless of what the tenant claims.

The notice itself is available as a template - usually produced in a PDF format by letting agents - which requires personal details from both the landlord and tenant to be enclosed. The remaining subsections state the rules applying to a noticed served naturally, at the end of a fixed term agreement, along with those for a periodic tenancy.

What is a periodic tenancy?

A fixed tenancy will turn into a periodic tenancy once the former has come to an end. The tenant can continue to pay their rent either monthly or weekly, but a rolling contract binds the two parties after the initial agreement has expired.

Again, even with a rolling contract, a Section 21 must still be issued two months before the scheduled eviction date. Should the tenant fail to comply with the order, the landlord in question will have to present their case to the court. If successful, it is up to the relevant county council to evict the tenant.